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Chase Headley Rumors
The Red Sox are faced with a problem unique to big-market teams, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. That question is how to spend all their money. Baseball has clamped down on spending on amateur talent, and the Angels' recent example shows the problems inherent in free-agent spending sprees. The Red Sox will have plenty of money coming off the books next offseason, perhaps giving them $50MM with which to spend. The Red Sox haven't spent heavily on top free agents recently, letting Jacoby Ellsbury depart and not signing Brian McCann. But Tomase suggests they'll continue to spend to add depth and build a "strong middle class." They could also look to extend their own stars, perhaps including Jon Lester and/or David Ortiz. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- The Yankees have not made any recent attempts to trade for Padres third baseman Chase Headley, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Yesterday's news confirmed that Alex Rodriguez will be out for the entire 2014 season, but the Yankees could well go with their existing options at third.
- Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez could receive significant innings at third base this year, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler tells Martino. "We’ll look left, we’ll look right, we’ll look under rocks and see if something can work itself out and makes sense," says Eppler. "But with Kelly Johnson, who we spoke to earlier in the season … before we came to an agreement with him, we talked to him about playing third base … as well as second base and there’s outfield."
Padres GM Josh Byrnes says his club is prepared to enter 2014 with third baseman Chase Headley on a one-year contract, Bill Center of U-T San Deigo reports. Headley enters his final year of arbitration in 2014 and will become a free agent after the end of the season unless he's signed to an extension. He's projected to earn $10MM through the arbitration process by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
Speaking with Center on Saturday, Headley said he's still open to discussing a long-term deal with the Padres, the only Major League organization he's ever known. "I don’t want to draw a line in the sand," he said. "We have time. I’m not saying something will get done, but I’m saying it can happen." While the subject has been broached between player and team, Headley reports that talks "haven’t gone very far."
Headley, 29, appeared to establish himself as one of the game's premier players in 2012, compiling a .286/.376/.498 line despite half of his plate appearances coming in one of baseball's most pitching-friendly parks. However, he reverted to a .250/.347/.400 triple-slash in 2013, numbers that are largely in line with his career performance. Agents who spoke with CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman all the way back in May suggested Ryan Zimmerman's six-year, $100MM contract with the Nationals was a starting point for Headley extension discussions. The benchmark has presumably fallen after the third baseman's disappointing 2013, however.
If the Padres can't agree to terms with Headley, Peter Gammons of MLB Network reported last month that the team won't consider trading him until June at the earliest. The White Sox have been linked with Headley recently, and the Yankees, among other clubs, have been cited as a potential suitor in the past.
It remains to be seen whether or not Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but if he is and the Diamondbacks have yet to address their starting pitching needs, expect Arizona to place a bid on the Japanese right-hander, tweets Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Here's more on the D-Backs and a pair of their NL West rivals:
- Kevin Towers and the D-Backs don't mind waiting on Eric Chavez, who is deciding where he wants to play and monitoring Arizona's moves, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
- Asked about the possibility of trading Archie Bradley, Towers suggested today that it would be "very, very tough" for the D-Backs to do so, tweets Gilbert.
- The Padres have interest in Scott Downs, among other southpaw relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. San Diego's Josh Byrnes confirmed that the team is casting a wide net for bullpen help, indicating that he has touched base with "most" available left-handed relievers (Twitter link via Adam Berry of MLB.com).
- According to Berry (Twitter links), Byrnes said the Padres have weighed "six or eight ideas" and have meetings set up to discuss free agents and trades. Byrnes also shot down the latest round of Chase Headley rumors, stating that the team views the third baseman as part of its 2014 plans.
- Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has some details on the Giants' search for an outfielder, tweeting that the Giants called three times on Norichika Aoki before the Brewers decided to send Aoki to the Royals. In a second tweet, Baggarly says the Giants are interested in Michael Morse and Corey Hart, but probably not at the years and dollars those players will command.
- John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle provides a couple more Giants updates, reporting that no teams have inquired on San Francisco's five starters, but that the club's young pitching has drawn some interest. Shea adds that the team appears unlikely to bring back Chad Gaudin (Twitter links).
Recent reports have linked Padres third baseman Chase Headley to the White Sox, and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago adds some more details to that story, noting that the two sides have discussed the switch-hitting Headley numerous times. However, Chicago GM Rick Hahn is loath to meet counterpart Josh Byrnes' request of including Jose Quintana as part of the package.
As Hayes notes, Quintana can be controlled for another five seasons, and the Sox like the pairing of him and Chris Sale at the front of their rotation for the foreseeable future. The Sox are more amenable to trading fellow lefty Hector Santiago, according to Hayes, and they've likely offered him in potential deals for Headley. However, one big league evaluator told Hayes that Santiago's value has been negatively impacted by pitching in the same rotation as Quintana, as teams are frequently more interested in talking about Quintana, who is more consistent.
Though Headley figures to be one of the most oft-discussed players at this week's Winter Meetings, the Padres don't expect to trade their third baseman, sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. As for the White Sox, previous reports have indicated that the White Sox consider Quintana, Sale and Avisail Garcia to be untouchable in trades.
The idea that the Pirates would trade for David Price is "pure nonsense," writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook. The Pirates would have to pay about $30MM for two seasons of Price, and would have to give up lots of value in prospects as well. "There are a lot fewer clubs that can play at the top of the market than clubs that can't," Pirates GM Neal Huntington says. "We just can't afford to do 'X.' Well, we could, but then how would we build a championship-caliber club around that one player?" Huntington also says the single biggest improvement the Bucs can make is re-signing A.J. Burnett, who continues to consider whether to play for one more year or to retire. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Pirates could look for a first baseman, starting pitcher, shortstop and/or right fielder this week, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates "checked in on" starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. If so, that might indicate that they're not hopeful that Burnett will be back next year.
- The Royals offered Carlos Beltran three years and over $40MM, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Beltran ended up going to the Yankees for three years and $45MM. Heyman also notes that the Royals will also be bidding against the Yankees for infielder Omar Infante.
- The White Sox have demonstrated interest in Chase Headley of the Padres, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. As Van Schouwen notes, that's a little odd, unless the White Sox think they can sign Headley to an extension — the White Sox aren't expected to contend in 2014, and Headley is a free agent after the season.
The Diamondbacks announced that they've hired Mike Harkey as their pitching coach and named Mel Stottlemyre Jr. bullpen coach. The 47-year-old Harkey has been coaching for 14 seasons, the past six of which have come with the Yankees on Joe Girardi's staff. Stottlemyre, 49, served as the D-Backs's pitching coach from 2009-10 and has served as the minor league pitching coordinator since. Here's more of the the NL West…
- Peter Gammons of the MLB Network reports that the earliest the Padres would consider trading Chase Headley is next June. The team doesn't want to sell low on Headley coming off a season in which his OPS+ dropped by more than 30 points.
- The Rockies have shopped Mitchell Boggs in trades as they attempt to gauge his value before determining whether or not to tender him a contract tonight, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- Renck also reports that the Rockies are expected to tender a contract to right-hander Wilton Lopez, despite the struggles he endured in 2013. Lopez posted a 4.06 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings for the Rockies this past season after being acquired from the Astros for Alex White and Alex Gillingham.
- Newly signed Angels reliever Joe Smith told reporters in a conference call that the Dodgers made him an offer on the free agent market but wouldn't guarantee a third year (Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reporting on Twitter). The Dodgers appear to be seeking right-handed bullpen help, as they were also connected to Jim Johnson in trade talks earlier this morning.
The Royals are very interested in Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees remain the favorites to sign him, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. "I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there," one executive tells Sherman. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to give Beltran a three-year deal, but they could eventually land him by giving him three years or by paying heavily for two. Regardless of the Yankees' current issues, the perception of the Yanks as a winning organization matters to Beltran, even though they won fewer games than Kansas City did last year. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Sherman writes that the Mets are no longer interested in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery, because of concerns about his health. The Mets are looking for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop.
- Furcal himself says that the Mets, Red Sox, Marlins, Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and other teams have shown interest in him, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (link in Spanish).
- After failing to find common ground on a contract extension, the Padres would listen to offers for Chase Headley, Sherman reports. The question is how he should be valued — Headley hit .286/.376/.498 in a terrific 2012 season, then came back to earth with a .250/.347/.400 season in 2013.
- Even after landing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins will continue to strongly pursue free agents and trade possibilities, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets. The Twins have been connected to any number of starting pitchers, including Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and trade targets Homer Bailey and Jeremy Hellickson. They've also been tied to catchers like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski.
- The Twins aren't the only suitors for Hughes, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Royals are also making "a strong push" for the former Yankees righty. Hughes is expected to receive a two-year deal, with the Mariners and Angels potentially being involved along with the Royals and Twins. Berardino also points out that Hughes' agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, also represents Jason Vargas, who recently signed a four-year deal with Kansas City.
- The Royals need a second baseman, and a team official recently told the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton that the Royals think Mark Ellis "has something left" (via Twitter). Ellis, 36, hit just .270/.323/.351 last season with the Dodgers, but he's a consistently-above-average defensive player.
- Carlos Santana of the Indians would like to play in the field more, but the Indians already have good options at catcher in Yan Gomes and at first base in Nick Swisher. Instead, then, Santana would like to try third base, and Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are interested in the possibility, in part because Santana is taking initiative rather than complaining. (He's working out at third at the Indians' Dominican facility.) Whether Santana can field at third base is an open question — he hasn't played more than a handful of games at the position since 2006, when he was in the Dodgers' minor-league system. If the Indians have any confidence he can play there, though, they might be less inclined to pursue a righty-hitting third-base type this offseason. Lefty-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall, who struggled last season, currently sits atop the Indians' depth chart at third.
Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:
- Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
- Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
- The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
- The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
- The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
- Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
- The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.
"It's certainly a possibility," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR at the GM Meetings when asked whether or not the team would have interest in approaching Andrew Cashner about a long-term deal. "I think that, in a market like ours, or really in most markets, when a guy has proven that he has a chance to be a core guy, the early deal makes some sense. There's always risk with that, and we've felt that on certain deals that we've done."
Cashner enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013, remaining healthy for a full season for the first time in his Major League career. The 27-year-old totaled 175 innings and posted a strong 3.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a healthy 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. His fastball velocity — which averaged a strong 94.5 mph on the season — actually trended upward at season's end, and he finished particularly strong. In his final seven starts, the 2008 first-rounder posted a 1.22 ERA with an outstanding 45-to-7 K/BB ratio. Cashner lasted at least seven innings in each of those starts and added his first career shutout in the process. He projects to earn $2.4MM in arbitration this winter, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Cashner won't be the only pitching-related issue that the Padres face this offseason, though, and they'll likely be looking outside the organization to address their need for left-handed pitching. "I think we have to keep all avenues open, including trading for a guy," said Byrnes. "We're feeling good. There's a lot of guys out there we like, whether it's through trades or free agency. It's just a matter of getting one or two."
Byrnes balked at the idea of issuing a multiyear deal to a free agent lefty, noting the rarity of multiyear deals for relievers in his tenure as a GM and stating, "It's probably something I would vote against." Indeed, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, Byrnes has guaranteed multiple years to just two relievers: Huston Street and Randy Choate. In the latter's case, he received a mere two-year, $1.3MM extension — certainly not a feasible free agent price on a multiyear deal in today's free agent market — shortly after Byrnes' initial hiring by the Diamondbacks in 2005. Byrnes and his staff will have a strong crop of free agent lefties to choose from, as this year's class is highlighted by Javier Lopez, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs and Matt Thornton.
One area of the pitching staff in which Byrnes feels comfortable is its depth. He noted that Joe Wieland is throwing in the Arizona Fall League and Cory Luebke has begun throwing off a mound. On adding that tandem to the starting options he had in September, Byrnes said: "Put them back in the mix… we finished the year with a six-man rotation… and our rotation's best month was September with all six really throwing the ball well. I'd love to go in [to 2014] and say we actually have a surplus, which is possible."
Chase Headley's status with the team will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues for the Padres this offseason, but Byrnes maintained that there's no real update at this time, and Headley could still be extended, traded or retained through the arbitration process. He was quick to note, however, that the Padres view Headley as more than a simple asset to cash in for future assets, as he's important to their 2014 outlook: "Putting him into a team context… we've worked hard to put a good offense together. Our pitching's caught up, and if our position players are all there, I think we do feel like in 2014, a healthier team that's going to take a real step forward."
That 2014 team will be one that doesn't include former bench coach Rick Renteria on the field staff or special assistant Brad Ausmus in the front office. Each has landed a managerial job in recent weeks, with Ausmus being hired by the Tigers and Renteria being hired by the Cubs. Asked if it was bittersweet to see them go, Byrnes offered high praise for each: "They were two guys who added a lot. It's kind of neat to see them both get opportunities, but it's a loss. And there's probably a chance we'll lose more staff that would go with them. I hate to say 'bittersweet.' We're going to miss them, so that's the bitter part, but for them to fill a career goal, both in great situations, we're very happy for them."
- The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement. Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
- An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes. The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
- It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
- It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise. Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
- Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes. Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.